Category Archives: adult fiction and nonfiction

First Quarter Reading List 2017

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I thought I’d keep a running list of the books I read quarterly, as well as posting a full list at the end of the year. Here are the books I’ve read and loved so far this first quarter of 2017. While I’ve read 30 books so far, I’m way behind on my reading. More great books keep popping up. If only I could read and do nothing else! ūüôā Would love to hear what books you’re reading and loving!

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All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Keily

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

Whobert Whover, Owl Detective by Jason Gallaher (illus by Jess Pauwels) ARC

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Mama Loves You So by Terry Pierce (illus by Simone Shin) ARC

In Case You Missed It by Sarah Darer Littman

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella (adult fic)

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins ARC

Egg by Kevin Henkes

The Takedown by Corrie Wang ARC

My Busy Green Garden by Terry Pierce (illus by Carol Schwartz) ARC

Flying Lessons and Other Short Stories edited by Ellen Oh

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

March Book Two by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

March Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds

Hug It Out by Louise Thomas

Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu

The Countdown Conspiracy by Katie Silvensky ARC

Are You an Echo? translation by David Jacobson, Sally Ito, Michiko Tsubori (illus by Toshikado Hajiri)

The Infamous Ratsos by Kara LeReau (illus by Matt Myers)

Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar

Two Naomis by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick

The Warden’s Daughter by Jerry Spinelli

Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howard (illus by Rafael López)

The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina by Kara LaReau (illus by Jen Hill)

Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham (adult humor)

Dark Horses by Cecily Von Ziegesar

A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray

Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy

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2016 Reading List

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Another year of reading fabulous books! I’m happy to share the list of books I read and enjoyed, but because I’m pressed for time this year, I won’t be providing my two-sentence summaries this year. I’ll provide links so you can see what each book is about and make purchases, though! And as always, I’m happy to hear your favorites from the past year.

By the Numbers:

77: total books

27: YA

21: chapter books/MG

12: picture books

17: adult

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UNIDENTIFIED SUBURBAN OBJECT by Mike Jung MG fiction

HOUSE ARREST by K.A. Holt MG fiction

SEE HOW THEY RUN by Ally Carter YA fiction

WEBSTER: TALE OF AN OUTLAW by Ellen Emerson White MG fiction

RHYME SCHEMER by K.A. Holt MG fiction

HOW TO PUT YOUR PARENTS TO BED by Mylisa Larsen (illust. by Babette Cole) picture book fiction

ECHO by Pam Mu√Īoz Ryan MG fiction

KEEP ME POSTED by Liza Beazley adult fiction

THICKER THAN WATER by Kelly Fiore YA fiction

A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU (Firebird Book 1) by Claudia Gray YA fantasy/sci-fi

THE INCIDENT ON THE BRIDGE by Laura McNeal YA fiction

FOOTER DAVIS PROBABLY IS CRAZY by Susan Vaught MG fiction

THE MYSTERIOUS MOONSTONE (The Key Hunters Book 1) by Eric Luper chapter book fiction

TEN THOUSAND SKIES ABOVE YOU (Firebird Book 2) by Claudia Gray YA fantasy/sci-fi

THE SPY’S SECRET (The Key Hunters Book 2) by Eric Luper chapter book fiction

THE QUICKEST KID IN CLARKSVILLE by Pat Zietlow Miller (illus by Frank Morrison) picture book

23 MINUTES by Vivian Vande Velde YA fiction

THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYONE by Joshilyn Jackson adult fiction

SURF’S UP by Kwame Alexander (illus by Daniel Miyares) picture book

THE MEMORY OF LIGHT by Francisco X. Stork YA fiction

FOREST OF WONDERS (Wing & Claw Book 1) by Linda Sue Park MG fantasy

CALVIN by Martine Leavitt YA fiction

THE WAY LIFE SHOULD BE by Christina Baker Kline adult fiction

WHY NOT ME? by Mindy Kaling adult autobiography/humor

THE LOONEY EXPERIMENT by Luke Reynolds MG fiction

THE SUMMERTIME GIRLS by Laura Hankin adult fiction

NOBODY’S SECRET by Michaela MacColl YA fiction

COYOTE MOON by Maria Gianferrari (illus by Bagram Ibatoulline) picture book nonfiction

THE WINNER’S KISS (The Winner’s Trilogy Book 3) by Marie Rutkoski YA fantasy

ELIGIBLE by Curtis Sittenfeld adult fiction

FINDING PERFECT by Elly Swartz MG fiction

AMERICAN WIFE by Curtis Sittenfeld adult fiction

THE LAST BOY AND GIRL IN THE WORLD by Siobhan Vivian YA fiction

RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE by Kate DiCamillo MG fiction

SWING SIDEWAYS by Nanci Turner Steveson MG fiction

OUTRUN THE MOON by Stacey Lee YA fiction

EVERY EXQUISITE THING by Matthew Quick YA fiction

SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY by Mary Robinette Kowal adult fantasy

FLAMECASTER (Shattered Realms Book 1) by Cinda Williams Chima YA fantasy

TWO SUMMERS by Aimee Friedman YA fiction

THE STORY I’LL TELL by Nancy Tupper Ling, illust by Jessica Lanan picture book

LOVE AND GELATO by Jenna Evans Welch YA fiction

THE BOOK THAT MATTERS MOST by Ann Hood adult fiction

THE SEVENTH WISH by Kate Messner MG fiction

BURN BABY BURN by Meg Medina YA fiction

TRULY MADLY GUILTY by Lianne Moriarty adult fiction

THE BEAUTY OF DARKNESS (The Remnant Chronicles Book 3) by Mary E. Pearson YA fantasy

TINY PRETTY THINGS by Sona Charaiportra and Dhonielle Clayton YA fiction

FALLING by Jane Green adult fiction

FLYING by Carrie Jones YA fantasy

A CRACK IN THE SEA by H.M. Bouwman (ARC – due out Jan 2017) MG fantasy

WISH by Barbara O’Connor MG fiction

MOO by Sharon Creech MG fiction

INK AND ASHES by Valynne E. Maetani YA fiction

LEAVE ME by Gayle Foreman adult fiction

BELGRAVIA by Julian Fellowes adult historical fiction

THE SUNDAY PHILOSOPHY CLUB by Alexander McCall Smith adult mystery

CRAZY RICH ASIANS by Kevin Kwan adult fiction

CLOUD AND WALLFISH by Anne Nesbett MG fiction

GERTIE’S LEAP TO GREATNESS by Kate Beasley MG fiction

SOME WRITER!: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet nonfiction autobiography

MONSTER TRUCKS by Anika Denise (illus by Nate Wragg) picture book fiction

LUCY’S LOVEY by Betsy Devany (illus by Christopher Denise) picture book fiction

COMMONWEALTH by Ann Patchett adult fiction

THE NIAN MONSTER by Andrea Wang (illus by Alina Chau) picture book fiction

PARIS FOR ONE AND OTHER STORIES by Jojo Moyes adult fiction

LIKE MAGIC by Elaine Vickers MG fiction

SHADOW AND BONE (Grisha Trilogy Book 1) by Leigh Bardugo YA fantasy

SIEGE AND STORM (Grisha Trilogy Book 2) by Leigh Bardugo YA fantasy

RUIN AND RISING (Grisha Trilogy Book 3) by Leigh Bardugo YA fantasy

SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo YA fantasy

CROOKED KINGDOM (Six of Crows sequel) by Leigh Bardugo YA fantasy

BAKING DAY AT GRANDMA’S by Anika Denise (illus by Christopher Denise) ¬†picture book

WHAT A BEAUTIFUL MORNING by Arthur Levine (illus by Katie Kath) picture book

THE YOUNGEST MARCHER by Cynthia Levinson (illus by Vanessa Brantley Newton) (ARC due out January 2017 picture book

LOU LOU AND PEA AND THE MURAL MYSTERY by Jill Diamond MG fiction

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR by Nicola Yoon YA fiction

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I’d also like to thank each and every one of you for faithfully reading this blog. I know your time is valuable and I appreciate your time. I promise more give-aways in 2017! Happy reading!

2015 Reading List

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Another year, another list of fabulous books read! I really wish I had read even more. As is, my TBR pile seems to be never-ending. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I do wish I could read all the books I want to. That being said, I really loved the books I did read and here’s the list. If the book made it on my list, it was worth the read. (Just FYI – I know I’m a week short of the official start of 2016, but I’ll be adding the books I read this week to the start of 2016’s list.)

EVERYTHING EVERYTHING by Nicola Yoon¬†(YA fiction) – Housebound teen “bubble girl” falls in love with neighbor boy.
SOME LUCK by Jane Smiley (adult historical) – First book in trilogy about a family in Iowa (starting in the 1920s).
THE CROSSOVER by Kwame Alexander (MG fiction) – Award-winning novel in verse about 12 year old Josh, his basketball obsession, and his family.
CARRY ON by Rainbow Rowell (YA fiction) РCompanion to FANGIRL, the story about the young magician Simon Snow and his adventures at a school for magicians.
FLIGHT SCHOOL by Lita Judge (picture book) – A penguin wants to learn how to fly.

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SHELTER PET SQUAD #2: MERLIN by Cynthia Lord (chapter book) – Suzannah who volunteers at her local shelter, helps the Shelter Pet Squad find a missing ferret.
TONIGHT THE STREETS ARE OURS by Leila Sales (YA fiction) – When her mother walks out, Arden finds comfort in a blog written by a boy in NYC.
ASK THE PASSENGERS by A.S. King (YA fiction) – Teen keeps her best friend’s secret, but has secrets of her own, in a story about being true to yourself in a small town.
DUMPLIN’ by Julie Murphy (YA fiction) – Plus-sized Willowdean is comfortable in her own skin (even if her former beauty queen mother isn’t). This is my kind of book¬†with an underdog to root for, relationships that need mending, and a hot boy.
PRINCESS JUNIPER OF THE HOURGLASS by Ammi-Joan Paquette (MG fiction) – On her 13th nameday, Princess Juniper asks her father for her own (small) kingdom of kids to rule for practice. Full of adventure and mystery!
SHOPAHOLIC TO THE RESCUE by Sophie Kinsella (adult fic) – I’m such a fan of Kinsella. In the continuing Shopaholic saga,¬†Becky and her troop are in Vegas searching for her dad who mysteriously “disappeared.” Always laugh-out-loud fun reading.
FAT ANGIE by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo (YA fiction) – A touching story about Fat Angie who grieves her war-hero sister, and is intrigued by the cool new girl who befriends her.
THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE by Janet Fox (MG fiction) – Suspenseful tale that weaves magic and mystery together in a page-turning story about 12 year old Kate and her siblings who are sent to a castle in Scotland during the London blitz.

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HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE by Margaret Dilloway (adult fiction) –¬†After the American occupation, Shoko leaves her home of Japan and moves to America after marrying a GI, leaving behind her family and a brother who disowns her.
THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE by Leila Sales (YA fiction) – Bullied and friendless Elise discovers escape and friendship in an underground club as a DJ.
WHAT ALICE FORGOT by Liane Moriarty (adult fiction) – After hitting her head, Alice loses 10 years of memories and is horrified to discover she’s in the middle of divorce proceedings with her husband whom she loves.

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CLEMENTINE FOR CHRISTMAS by Daphne Benedis-Grab (MG fiction) РHeart-warming story set before Christmas, three 6th graders are thrown together while volunteering on the pediatric ward at the hospital.
THESE SHALLOW GRAVES by Jennifer Donnelly (YA fiction) –¬†Gripping thriller set in 19th century NYC, privileged Jo Monfort puts her reputation and engagement at risk to discover the truth behind her father’s death.
AFTER YOU by Jojo Moyes (adult fiction) – Follow up to ME BEFORE YOU – can’t say more in case you haven’t read the first book yet. So worth it!

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MYSTERY AT THE EAGLE’S NEST (Cooper & Packrat) by Tamra Wight (chapter book) – The continuing adventures of Cooper and Packrat, best friends who live at a campground. This time they are tracking a group of mysterious strangers who might be endangering the eagles at the campground.
BIG MAGIC: CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR by Elizabeth Gilbert (adult nonfiction) – Inspiration for living the creative life.
HOW TO START A FIRE by Lisa Lutz (adult fiction) –¬†A intricately woven story about three friends who met in college.
THE NUTCRACKER COMES TO AMERICA by Chris Barton, illust. by Cathy Gendrone (nonfiction picture book) – The story of how three brothers brought the ballet story The Nutcracker to America.
A WINDOW OPENS by Elisabeth Egan (adult fiction) – A book-loving woman who “has it all” takes a risk and joins a start up company that might put her best friend’s bookstore out of business.
UNBREAK MY HEART by Melissa Walker (YA fiction) – Clem is stuck on a boat with her family, nursing her wounds from a fight with her best friend, and unexpectedly falls for a boy on another boat.
HELLO, GOODBYE, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN by Jennifer E. Smith (YA fiction) – High school sweethearts spend the last 12 hours before they go off to separate collages reminiscing and trying to decide if they should break up or stay together.
THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO by Huntley Fitzpatrick (YA fiction) –¬†A¬†touching coming-of-age story dealing with love, teen parenthood, and mistakes made. (And a totally swoon-worthy male love interest!)
KISSING IN AMERICA by Margo Rabb (YA fiction) – Sixteen year old grieving Eva falls for a boy who moves away and she finds a way to travel across the country to be with him.
LITTLE WOMAN IN BLUE by Jeannine Atkins (adult historical) – Heart-warming story based on real life artist May Alcott (sister of Louisa May who wrote Little Women).
THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST by Holly Black (YA urban fantasy) РHazel and her brother live in a town that more or less peacefully co-exists with faerie folk until the eternal sleeping boy in a glass coffin wakes up and disappears.
NONE OF THE ABOVE by I.W. Gregorio (YA fiction) – Krissy, senior star hurdler with a college scholarship in the bag and best boyfriend ever, learns she’s intersex.¬†A deeply layered story of love and a self-acceptance.

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CLEO EDISON OLIVER, PLAYGROUND MILLIONAIRE by Sundee T. Frazier (chapter book)- Fifth grader Cleo has big aspirations to be a successful businesswoman and is determined to come up with the perfect business for her class assignment.
SANCTUARY by Jennifer McKissack (YA fiction) – Seventeen year old Cecelia must return to her childhood home, the estate on an island where memories haunt her.
THE HEART OF BETRAYAL by Mary E. Pearson (YA fiction) – Book 2 of the Remnant Chronicles follows the saga and adventures of Rafe, Kaden, and Lia. No spoilers here, but I can’t wait for book 3!
ANOTHER KIND OF HURRICANE by Tamara Ellis Smith (MG fiction) –¬†The lives of two ten-year-old boys, one in Louisiana and one in Vermont, are swept up and thrown together in a tale dealing with and healing from loss.
BUNNIES!!! by Kevan Atteberry (picture book) – Humorous story about a monster who wants to befriend bunnies.
DREAMS OF GODS & MONSTERS by Laini Taylor (YA fantasy/fiction) РBook 3 of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. No spoilers here!
DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor (YA fantasy/fiction) РBook 2 of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. No spoilers here!
FISH IN A TREE by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (MG fiction) –¬†A child who struggles with dyslexia gets support and¬†help from a kind teacher and true friends.
IT’S A SEASHELL DAY by Dianne Ochiltree, illust. by Elliot Kreloff (picture book) –¬†A¬†child and mom spend a day at the beach, searching for shells and other treasures.

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ONE WORD FROM SOPHIA by Jim Averbeck, illust. by Jasmeen Ismail (picture book) – Sophie tries to convince her parents to get her a pet giraffe.
A HANDFUL OF STARS by Cynthia Lord (MG fiction) – Lily hopes to raise money for surgery for her blind dog Lucky who inadvertently introduces Lily to a migrant worker girl.
GOODBYE STRANGER by Rebecca Stead (YA fiction) – Intertwining stories mostly about 8th grader Bridge – about friendship, first love, and family.
LOVE MAY FAIL by Matthew Quick (adult fiction) – Portia Kane leaves her cheating husband and returns to her hometown where she makes it her mission to help her former teacher.
MY DOG IS THE BEST by Laurie Ann Thompson, illus. by Paul Schmid (picture book fiction) – A boy and his dog. Adorable!
FINDING AUDREY by Sophie Kinsella (YA fiction) –¬†With trademark Kinsella humor and empathy, a story about Audrey, a teen with severe anxiety who withdraws from the world, only to be slowly drawn back in by her brother’s friend.
IS EVERYONE HANGING OUT WITHOUT ME? by Mindy Kaling (adult memoir) – Mindy Kaling of The Mindy Project’s humorous memoir.
THE GOLLYWHOPPER GAMES:FRIEND OR FOE by Jody Feldman (MG fiction) РBook 3 of the Gollywhopper Games series has middle grader Zane sidelined from trying out for the football team chosen as a reluctant contestant for the third Gollywhopper Games.
THE ROYAL WE by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan (adult fiction) – Bex Porter leaves behind America and her twin sister to attend Oxford and falls for Nick, the Prince himself – a perfectly swoon-worthy read!
SAINT ANYTHING by Sarah Dessen (YA fiction) – Sydney struggles with her emotions dealing with a brother in prison and her parents whose lives revolve around him.
P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU by Jenny Han (YA fiction) – Starting¬†just days after Lara Jean and Peter fight and end their fake relationship (TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE), the story continues to follow Lara Jean and her up and down love life and the fall out from the love letters she wrote (and didn’t send out, but somebody did).
PAPER THINGS by Jennifer Richard Jacobson (MG fiction) – Fifth grader Ari struggles in school and with friendship when her older brother removes her from her guardian’s care.
THE START OF ME AND YOU by Emery Lord (YA fiction) –¬†A year after her boyfriend drowned, Paige, while still grieving, decides to try to start fresh.
THE WALLS AROUND US by Nova Ren Suma (YA fiction) –¬†Amber has been held in the Aurora Hills Juvenile Detention Center since she was 13. For three years, she‚Äôs survived, but something is going on…
VALIANT by Sarah McGuire (MG fiction) – When her father the tailor falls ill, Saville disguises herself as a boy and uses her gift (as much as she hates sewing) to feed them in this retelling of The Brave Little Tailor.
RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES by Kate McGovern (YA fiction) – Seventeen year old Rose has big dreams of becoming a professional ballerina and wants to take the test to find out if she has her mother’s Huntington’s disease. Falling for¬†a guy was the last thing she wanted or needed.
BEEKLE by Dan Santat (picture book) – Sweet award-winning picture book about imaginary friends.
THE WINNER’S CRIME by Marie Rutkoski (YA fiction) – Book 2 in the Winner’s Trilogy, Kestral’s life continues to¬†spin with love, betrayal, secrets, and deception. No spoilers here! Can’t wait for book 3!

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PICNIC IN PROVENCE by Elizabeth Bard (adult memoir) РEx-pat American and her French husband move from Paris to Provence with their infant son.
MY BEST EVERYTHING by Sarah Tomp (YA fiction) РWhen Lulu Mendez, who wants to escape her small town, learns her father has blown her college savings, she comes up with a desperate plan to make/sell moonshine.
GOOD OMENS by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (adult fiction) –¬†A tongue-in-cheek telling of the Apocalypse involving Crowley (devil) and Aziraphael (angel) who because they have grown fond of living on Earth join forces to try to prevent the end of the world.
A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING by Ruth Ozeki (adult fiction) РWhen Ruth finds and reads a diary washed up on the shore of her Canadian beach, she get lost in the world of a teen age girl, uprooted from her home in Sunnyvale and forced to move to Tokyo after her father loses his lucrative Silicon Valley job.
ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr (adult historical fiction) – Pulitzer Prize winning novel told in multiple POV, mostly from a young blind French girl named Marie-Laure and a young German boy Werner caught up in WWII.
FIRST FROST by Sarah Addison Allen (adult fiction) РIn a return to the Waverly sisters (GARDEN SPELLS), Allen expertly weaves magical realism in a story filled with love, family, and hope.
ALL FALL DOWN by Ally Carter (YA fiction) –¬†When 16yo Grace Blakely returns to live with her grandfather, the US ambassador to Adria, she is determined to prove she‚Äôs not crazy, convince her family her mother was killed not in an accident, and find her mother‚Äôs murderer. Can’t wait for book 2 of the Embassy Row series!
THE ROSIE EFFECT by Graeme Simsion (adult fiction) –¬†In a follow up to THE ROSIE PROJECT (Spoiler Alert), Don Tillman and Rosie are now married and living in New York, and Don, who does not deal well with surprises, is surprised to learn Rosie is pregnant.
READ BETWEEN THE LINES by Jo Knowles (YA fiction) – Interrelated “short stories” told in multiple POVs centered around the middle finger after unpopular¬†Nate Granger breaks his middle finger during high school gym class.
DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE by Laini Taylor (YA fiction) РBook 1: Karou, an art student living on her own in Prague belongs to another world, one of half beasts Рchimera, and in particular her foster father Brimstone who does some sort of magic with the teeth Karou is tasked to collect.
THIS ONE SUMMER by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki (YA graphic novel) – Rose, on the cusp of adolescence, reunites with her summer best friend as they explore questions of life and love.
THE SORCERER HEIR by Cinda Williams Chima (YA fiction) РIn a continuation of the Heir Chronicles, Emma Lee/Greenwood continues to struggle with her fear that the boy she loves, Jonah, is responsible not only for her father’s murder but the other murders as well.

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What did you read that you especially loved in 2015?

Thank you for being here and for allowing me to share great books with you. Here’s to a fantastic 2016 of MORE great books (and more give-aways)!

And The Winner Is…

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Hello! And thank you for being so patient for me to reveal the winner of the latest drawing! We last shined the spotlight on this amazing novel:

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Little Woman in Blue by Jeannine Atkins (She Writes Press/2015)

If you missed my interview with the talented author of this story based on May Alcott (sister of Louisa May Alcott), you can check it out here.

And now a special treat – the winner of this drawing will have the opportunity to get a signed copy!¬†Stayed tuned for details below. ¬†A¬†random number generator¬†has chosen comment number 14 – the winner is…

commenter number 14 – Elizabeth the Evil Overlord! (oooh, sounds foreboding!) ūüôā Congratulations! Please contact me at just kid ink at yahoo dot com (no spaces) no later than October 10th and let me know to whom you’d like your book signed. I will mail your prize to you after the 13th (after I get the book signed by Jeannine)!

EDITED TO ADD: Because Elizabeth already has the book she kindly offered to let another winner be drawn. The new winner is commenter number 8! Andrea Wang! YAY! Please follow above directions to receive your prize!

Happy reading!

Welcome to the Spotlight Jeannine Atkins and Little Woman in Blue

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I’m super excited to shine the spotlight on talented friend and author Jeannine Atkins. I’ve long been a fan of her work. When she read me the opening to a new work-in-progress, a few years ago, it stayed with me – I wanted to read the rest! I’m so happy that I was recently able to do that, and now you can read it, too! Her newest novel is for adults, but could definitely be enjoyed by young adults, as well. Stayed tuned below for a chance to win:

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Little Woman in Blue by Jeannine Atkins (She Writes Press/2015)

A touching, heartwarming, and amazing story about the other Alcott sister РMay Alcott, portrayed as the selfish Amy in Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel LITTLE WOMEN. What Atkins paints here is a vivid and layered portrait of younger sister May, who was an artist, a dreamer, independent, and loyal. From her days living with her family, to her adventures abroad, to her struggles to become a respected artist in her own right, May’s life unfurls on the pages of this novel. While I was a fan of LITTLE WOMEN as a young girl, I admit to not knowing much about the author or her family. I couldn’t stop turning pages as I wondered if May would find success as an artist, find love, or see her family again. Although this is a work of fiction, the author has undoubtedly done a great deal of research to make the May’s life story feel so real and true.

Spotlight on Jeannine Atkins:

Why May Alcott? And can you tell us a little about the research you did? How long did it take you to write this story from idea to finished draft?

When writing about women from the past, one fascinating person often leads to another. Working on Becoming Little Women: Louisa May at Fruitlands, a novel about the Alcott’s time at a utopian community, I read a lot about the whole family. I was fascinated to learn that the youngest sister who was depicted in Little Women as a spoiled, not-very-talented artist in fact took painting very seriously, and didn’t give up her work for romance. She wanted both.

I read May Alcott’s journals and letters, as well as those of her family and neighbors. I looked at her paintings and studied other artists of that period. I worked off and on for about fifteen years. That’s obviously a long story, so let’s just say there were many drafts, two agents who gathered some interested letters but no commitments, and consistent support from my husband and writing group and friends in between. So thankful for that!

May Alcott was an aspiring artist Рyou captured the nuances of her determination, her worries and insecurities, and her creative spirit so realistically. How did you manage to channel her so vividly?

There’s a fine line between channeling and letting in your own feelings when writing historical fiction. Or maybe no line. Much of May’s life is very different from mine, but I found details about her family and work that let me dream my way in. And most creative people who’ve fought to be taken seriously can relate to both doubts and persistence. Those common feelings made a meeting point between us, while I stayed true to past events.

When did you read LITTLE WOMEN and do you have any special memories associated with the book? Who was your favorite character and why?

I played LITTLE WOMEN with my sister and two friends before I read the book. I knew the basic roles from seeing parts of the movie on television. I liked Katharine Hepburn as Jo, but so did my older sister, who claimed her, as older sisters do. I didn’t entirely mind. The youngest sister, Amy, had better clothes and seemed to have more fun.

As I grew up into a writer, I often thought of Jo March/Louisa May Alcott as a model, but her real younger sister reminded me that dedicating yourself to creative work doesn’t have to be lonely. Everyone trips into creative holes or slams into walls sometimes, but here was a woman who always seemed to remember the joy. She’s kept me good company through all the years of writing!

Jeannine Atkins is the author of Borrowed Names: Poems about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, Marie Curie and Their Daughters and Views from a Window Seat: Thoughts on Writing and Life. She teaches as an adjunct at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Simmons College. You can learn more on her website at http://www.Jeannineatkins.com.

For a chance to win a copy of this book, for yourself, a friend or child, or a library/school, just follow the directions below.

1. Comment on this post by Saturday September 19th by midnight EST. A winner will be drawn at random. Because of upcoming travel, I will announce the winner here on Tuesday, September 29th.

2. Entrants must have a US mailing address.

Look what I found! My copy of LITTLE WOMEN given to me by an aunt and uncle back in 1979! I may have to re-read it.

Good luck and happy reading!

 

2014 Reading List

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Happy New Year! I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for following this blog. It’s a joy to share my love of reading and books – and I love hearing from you, too! If you have a reading blog that I’m not currently following, please comment below with your url. I love seeing what everyone else is reading and I get some great recommendations for books I might not have otherwise picked up.

I had a goal to read 100 books last year. Alas, I read 74. That means that I was mostly focusing on my own writing. I read only 30 children’s/teen books – that was a surprise to me. But, I have a tendency to avoid reading my genre when I’m focused on my own work-in-progress, so perhaps this is a good sign (at least for my own writing). The great thing, though, was that I thoroughly enjoyed all the YA/MG books I read this year!

Here’s my list of books:

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OPEN ROAD SUMMER by Emery Lord (YA)

MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME edited by Stephanie Perkins (YA)

2013 Reading List

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HAPPY NEW YEAR! In all, I read 75 books, not including manuscripts/WIPs by friends and books I put down after a few chapters. ¬†Of these books, 44 were children’s books (picture books, chapter books, MG, YA, and NA), 28 adult fiction, and 3 miscellaneous (nonfiction/writing/spiritual). I re-read four books (by Ellen Emerson White), and fell in love with new authors (Rainbow Rowell, Jojo Moyes, and Joshilyn Jackson, to name a few).

Here is my list in full (with a scattering of notes – just know that if the book is on this list, I enjoyed reading it and recommend it). If you’ve read any of the same books, I’d love to have a conversation with you about them (my email address is shared in my contact info), or if you have books to recommend based on books I read/loved here, please let me know!

2013 Reading List

 1. THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Katja Millay

Atria Paperback (S&S)/2012    YA/NA fiction 

2. JUST ONE DAY by Gayle Forman

Dutton Books/2013   NA fiction

3. ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes

Viking/2012   Adult fiction

Kindle, January 16, 2013

4. THE CRIMSON CROWN by Cinda Williams Chima

Hyperion/2012   YA fantasy

5. DOUBLE CROSSED: A Spies and Thieves Story by Ally Carter

Hyperion/2013   YA novella

6. ART by Patrick McDonnell

Little, Brown/2006  Picture book

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7. THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER by Jojo Moyes

Penguin Books/2010  adult fiction

8. PERFECT SCOUNDRELS by Ally Carter

Disney Hyperion/2013      YA fiction

9. FRANCES AND BERNARD by Carlene Bauer

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/2012    adult fiction

10.  TOUCHING THE SURFACE by Kimberly Sabatini

Simon Pulse/2012    YA fiction (paranormal)

11. THE SCHOOL OF ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS by Erica Bauermeister

G.P. Putnam’s Sons/2009   adult fiction

12.  JULIE AND ROMEO by Jeanne Ray

Random House/2000    adult fiction

13. THE LOST ART OF MIXING by Erica Bauermeister

G.P. Putnam’s Sons/2013

14.  EAT CAKE by Jeanne Ray

Random House/2003   adult fiction 

15. GHETTO COWBOY by G. Neri  (illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson)

Candlewick/2011        MG fiction

16. SHINE by Lauren Myracle

Abrams Books/2011   YA fiction 

17. CALLING INVISIBLE WOMEN by Jeanne Ray

Crown Publishers/2012   Adult fiction

18. THE UNDERNEATH by Kathi Appelt

Simon & Schuster/2008  MG fiction

19. THE ELEPHANT OF SURPRISE by Brent Hartinger

Buddha Kitty Books/2013   YA fiction

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20. ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell

St. Martin’s Griffin/2013  YA fiction

21. THE LUCY VARIATIONS by Sara Zarr (ARC)

Little, Brown & Co/May 2013

22. THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Scribner/1925              Fiction classic

23. GIRL PARTS by John M. Cusick

Candlewick Press/2010     YA fiction

24. UNREMEMBERED by Jessica Brody

Farrar, Straus, Giroux/2013  YA fiction

25. WEDDING NIGHT by Sophie Kinsella

The Dial Press/2013  Adult fiction 

26. GORGEOUS by Paul Rudnick

Scholastic/2013  YA fiction

27.  BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys

Speak (Penguin Group)/2011  YA historical fiction

28. FOX FOREVER by Mary E. Pearson

Henry Holt/2013  YA sci-fi

29. THE AMARANTH ENCHANTMENT by Julie Berry

Bloomsbury/2009           teen fantasy

30. THE MADNESS UNDERNEATH (Shades of London Book 2) by Maureen Johnson

Putnam/2013    YA paranomal

31. DIE FOR HER (A Novella) by Amy Plum

Harper Teen/2013   YA paranormal

32. ATTACHMENTS by Rainbow Rowell

Dutton/2011     adult fiction

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33. I’LL BE SEEING YOU by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan

Harlequin Mira/2013     adult historical fiction

34. AMITY & SORROW by Peggy Riley

Little Brown/2013     adult fiction 

35. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me by Sarra Manning

Corgi Books/2011  (UK)    new adult fiction

36. IT’S A FIREFLY NIGHT by Dianne Ochiltree (illus. by Betsy Snyder)

Blue Apple/2013   picture book

37. THE MOON AND MORE by Sarah Dessen

Viking/2013     YA fiction

38. ENDER’S GAME by Orson Scott Card

1994   MG sci fi

39. FROGGED by Vivian Vande Velde

Harcourt/April 2013     MG fantasy/fairy tale

40. MOXIE AND THE ART OF RULE BREAKING by Erin Dionne (ARC)

Dial Books/July 2013    MG fiction

41. SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS by Marisha Pessl

Penguin Books/2006    adult fiction 

42.  SEEING RED by Kathryn Erskine (ARC)

Scholastic/September 2013   MG Historical Fiction

43. COOPER & PACKRAT: MYSTERY ON PINE LAKE by Tamra Wight (Illus by Carl DiRocco)

Islandport Press/2013      MG fiction

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44. OPENLY STRAIGHT by Bill Konigsberg

Scholastic/2013  YA fiction

45. AUSTENLAND by Shannon Hale

Bloomsbury / 2007   Adult fiction

46. SEATING ARRANGMENTS by Maggie Shipstead

Vintage Books (Random House)/2012   adult fiction

47. THE NEWLYWEDS by Nell Freudenberger

Vintage Book (Random House)/2012    adult fiction

48. SPIRITUAL SOLUTIONS by Deepak Chopra

Harmony Books/2012   spiritual

49. WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES by Karen Joy Fowler

G.P. Putnam’s Sons/2013                   adult fiction

50. BELLE EPOQUE by Elizabeth Ross

Delacorte/2013    YA fiction

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51. THE PLOT WHISPERER by Martha Alderson

Adams Media/2011    writing/craft book

 

52.  THE INFINITE MOMENT OF US by Lauren Myracle

Amulet Books/2013   YA fiction

53. THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND by Jojo Moyes

Viking/2013   adult fiction

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54. LIVING WITH JACKIE CHAN by Jo Knowles

Candlewick/2013   YA fiction

 

55. FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell

St. Martin’s Griffin/2013   NA fiction9781250030955_p0_v4_s114x166

 

56. THE PRESIDENT’S DAUGHTER by Ellen Emerson White

Feiwel & Friends/2008  YA fiction

re-read (third time)

57. WHITE HOUSE AUTUMN by Ellen Emerson White

Feiwel & Friends/2008  YA fiction

re-read

58. LONG LIVE THE QUEEN by Ellen Emerson White

Feiwel & Friends/2008   YA fiction

re-read 

59. LONG MAY SHE REIGN by Ellen Emerson White

Feiwel and Friends/2007                     YA fiction

re-read

60. THE PARTNER TRACK by Helen Wan

St. Martin’s Press/2013    Adult fiction

Side note: It‚Äôs so refreshing to read a novel about an Asian-American protagonist in a contemporary American setting. Race did play a factor in this story, but not in a ‚Äúmulticultural story‚ÄĚ way. So much of what Ingrid experienced as an Asian-American in America rang true to me. I hope this is the start of a trend where we see main characters of color in contemporary stories.

61. JUST ONE YEAR by Gayle Forman

Dutton Books/2013    NA fiction

62. THE ROSIE PROJECT by Graeme Simsion

adult fiction

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63. ALL THE TRUTH THAT’S IN ME by Julie Berry

Viking/2013   YA fiction

64. ROOMIES by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando  ARC

Little, Brown & Company/2014       NA fiction9780316217491_p0_v3_s114x166-1

Side Note:¬†Tag line: One summer. Two strangers. Sixty-five days until they meet. This books comes out this year so keep an eye out for it. It’s worth the read!

65.  SEND by Patty Blount

Sourcebooks/2012  YA Fiction

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66. CHIME by Franny Billingsley

Dial Books/2011   YA fiction (folktale)

67. ROOTLESS by Chris Howard

Scholastic/2012    YA fiction 

68.  WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart    ARC

Random House/May 13, 2013   YA fiction

Side note: Look for my interview with Emily Lockhart in a few months. This is going to be a much talked about book, one you will want to read before everyone else talks about it!

69. SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY by Joshilyn Jackson

HarperCollins/2013    Adult fiction

70. MIDNIGHT IN AUSTENLAND by Shannon Hale

Bloomsbury/2012                   adult fiction

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71. GODS IN ALABAMA by Joshilyn Jackson

Grand Central Pubishing (Hatchett Book Group)/2005  Adult fiction

72. BACKSEAT SAINTS by Joshilyn Jackson

Grand Central Publishing/2010   Adult fiction

73. THE ISLAND by Elin Hilderbrand

Backbay Books (Hatchett Books)/2010  Adult fiction

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74. FOOD MATTERS by Mark Bittman

Simon & Schuster/2009   nonfiction food

Side note: This book motivated my husband and me to make some big lifestyle changes. I’m reading his book VEGAN BEFORE 6:00 next.

75. THE PATRON SAINT OF LIARS by Ann Patchett

Harper Perennial/1992    adult fiction

There you have it! I really enjoyed the books I read this year and wish I’d had time to read even more. There are so many wonderful books out there! I hope to read 100 books in 2014! Thanks for sticking around, I know I haven’t been blogging regularly, but I’ve been spending my time writing (and reading). I promise more great interviews and give-aways this year!

Please provide links to YOUR reading list in the comments. I’d love to check it out! Happy reading!